DEEP PURPLE – Long Beach 1971 (2015 Edel)
This CD is over 70 minutes long. It has four tracks. The shortest one is 11:05. The longest is 27:18. We just needed to be upfront with you, about what you are about to read, in case you felt like turning back now. This would be the time to do so.
Still with us? Great!
This live album was recorded during a period in Deep Purple where their setlist was in a state of flux. Their first heavy rock album and first serious bonafide smash hit, Deep Purple In Rock, was still dominating the set. The mid-term single, “Strange King of Woman”, had been included on the new album Fireball in the US, but it’s the only new song here. Even though the show was well recorded for radio, this set has never been released before officially.
A energetically ragged “Speed King” opens affairs. “A Speed King is somebody who moves very quickly from one place to another, and always gets there first,” says Ian Gillan during the long middle solo section. When it’s Blackmore’s turn to play, he’s smooth with just enough rough edges. Everybody shines; live in 1971, Deep Purple were a well-oiled machine running on the fuel of pure creativity. Ian and the others liked to have a drink now and then, but they were never a drug band until other members joined and brought their troubles with them. When a band as talented and unfettered and uninhibited by chemicals hit the stage, this is what can happen. “Speed King” is a mind-breakingly enjoyable version, both in spite of and because of its length!
The new single goes down a storm, and Blackmore’s solo is inspired. Then “Child in Time”, the old standby since late ’69, begins delicately with Ian in prime voice. Deep Purple at full power doing “Child in Time” complete with screams? Jazzy shuffle right in the middle? Always nice to have. The last half-hour of the set is dedicated to “Mandrake Root”, an unremarkable song from the first LP that operated in concert as the forum for their “big” jam, the one that descends into madness and chaos by the end. Brilliant stuff, but a bit much for those who just wanna rock.
If four songs loaded with solos are not your cup of java, that’s fine. There are plenty more Deep Purple live albums to be had. In the 80’s, the soloing was de-emphasized in favour of playing more songs. Those albums, featuring the exact same lineup, may be more your speed if this doesn’t sound like your kinda deal.